Hiroshima (1995)

 

 

Directors:  Koreyoshi Kurahara, Roger Spottiswoode.

Cast:
American Side:
Kenneth Welsh (Harry Truman), Richard D. Masur (General Leslie Groves), Wesley Addy (Henry Stimson), Sheena Larkin (Bess Truman), Leni Parker (Margaret Truman), Jeffrey DeMunn (J. Robert Oppenheimer), David Gow (Tibbets), Eleanor Yeoman (Eleanor Roosevelt), David Hemblen (Steve Early), George R. Robertson (Admiral Leahy), Timothy West (Winston Churchill), Mark Camacho (pilot Chas Sweeney), Charles Powell (bomber Kermit Beahan), Teddy Lee Dillon (Dehart--Tail Gunner), Gary Reineke (Deak Parsons), Ken Jenkins (James Byrnes), Saul Rubinek (Leo Szilard), Leon Pownall (General Marshall), James Bradford (Admiral King), Kurt Reis (General Handy), Bernard Behrens (John McCloy), Vlasta Vrana (General Farrell), J.W. Carroll (Chief Justice Stone), Alain Goulem (Captain Robert Lewis).

Japanese Side:
Naohiko Umewaka (Emperor Hirohito), Tatsuo Matsumura (Kantaro Suzuki), Kohji Takahashi (General Korechika Anami), Hisashi Igawa (Shigenori Togo), Shigeru Kohyama (Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai), Hiroshi Hasegawa (Tadaatsu Ishiguro), Akira Kuto (Sadajiro Toyoda), Mitsuro Yamazaki (Hiromasa Matsusaka), Motoharu Tamura (Hosaku Hirose), Kazuo Arai (Tadahiko Okada), Asao Matsumoto (Heigoro Sakurai), Yuusake Mine (Toji Yasui), Toshi Shioya (Hisatsune Sakomiza), Tetsuya Itoh (Tsukizo Akinaga), Kusuo Kita (Sumihisa Ikeda), Osamu Kato (Naoyoshi Murase), Zenichi Inagawa (Kiichiro Hiranuma), Senzaburo Makimura (Hajime Suzuki), Muromaru Koda (General Yoshijiro Umezu),Sakae Koike (Admiral Soemu Toyoda), Yuzo Hayakawa (Admiral Koshiro Oikawa), Masao Ishiguro (Lieutenant General Masao Yoshizumi), Arima Mitsutaka (Vice Admiral Zenshiro Hosina), Akira Hamada (Lieutenant General Koshior Kawabe), Ryuichi Horibe (Colonel Sato),Daisaku Akino (Lieutenant Colonel Ryuzo Sejima), Hiroshi Shimizu (Lieutenant Colonel Masahiko Takeshita).

Country:  Canadian-Japanese film made for cable.

Miniseries. 

 

 

Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.

April 1945. The Allied army fights across Europe to end Hitlerís dream of a master race. The Soviets are pushing toward Berlin.

For eight years the Japanese swept across Asia killing millions.

December 1941 the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. After four years the Japanese had been driven off every island except Okinawa.

Easter Sunday, 1945, US forces assaulted Okinawa.

April 12, 1945. American military casualties to date 899,000. Japanese casualties 1.1 million.

Harry S. Truman, Vice President of the United States, travels over to see Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. She tells him that the President is dead. He is shocked. He slowly says to Mrs. Roosevelt: "Well, if there is anything I can do for you." Mrs. Roosevelt replies: "Is there anything we can do for you, for you are the one in trouble now." People line the streets for the funeral procession.

Truman takes the oath of office for the presidency. He is very unprepared for the presidency.

April 13, 1945. Tokyo, Japan. General Korechika Anami, Minister of War, attends a meeting dealing with Okinawa. Anami says the Japanese Navy lost their biggest battleship, the Yamato, along with 3,600 men, because the leadership wanted to make some grandiose gesture. He says he has a million troops in Manchuria but he canít even bring them home for the final battle without a real Navy.  A message arrives that Roosevelt is dead. Someone says this could turn the war around. Major Hatanaka tells the Minister of War that this is great news for Japan. Anami tells him that the American soldiers will now fight even harder than ever to honor Rooseveltís memory.

Official Residence of the newly appointed Prime Minister Suzuki. He wonders if Truman will be a man of his word, because Roosevelt wasnít due to his being too much of a politician. Hisatsune Sakomizu, Chief Cabinet Secretary, is told to send a condolence telegram to Mrs. Roosevelt, but no one is to know about this.

The funeral is held at the Hyde Park, New York home of the Roosevelts. Truman is there for the ceremony.

April 13, Washington D.C. President Trumanís first cabinet meeting. The press is there to take photos of the event. Truman asks Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, to bring them up on the war in Europe and the Pacific. General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, gets up to show the President on the map. The 9th Army is almost in the suburbs of Berlin. In some places the Allies and the Soviets are only 75 miles apart. John J. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War, says that their B29s, the superfortresses, are making almost daily bombing raids on Japan. From bases on Guam and Tinian they can hit all the area on the Japanese mainland.

Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, says the Japanese Navy is finished as an aggressor. The US Navy sunk the Yamato, which was Japanís last battleship. Marshall says that the newest raids using night time, low altitude raids with incendiaries have been devastating. On March 9, sixteen square miles of Tokyo was completely destroyed in two hours.

Stimson does not like this saturation bombing. He says he does not want the United States to outdo Herr Hitler in atrocities committed against non-combatants. Truman agrees to that. After the meeting is over, Stimson tells the President of a new and awesome weapon with tremendous power. He will have General Leslie Groves, the guy who built the Pentagon with his Corps of Engineers, brief Truman.

Admiral William Leahy, Rooseveltís Chief of Staff, brings some files for Truman to read. He also tells Truman that James Byrnes, Special Advisor to Roosevelt, is here to see him. Byrnes gives the President his notes on the Yalta Conference between the Allied leaders: Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. Truman tells the advisor that he would like him to be his secretary of state. Byrnes, a very ambitious man who wanted to be president, accepts. Truman asks him about this new weapon and Byrnes says Groves will explain it to him, but it could give them the power to dictate any terms over their enemies. At home with his wife, Truman doubts his own abilities, but his wife has enough confidence in him for the both of them.

Marquis Koichi Kido, Lord Privy Seal, The Emperorís chief aide and advisor. He talks with the Prime Minister, who tells him that his wife was His Majestyís kindergarten teacher. The Cabinet meeting is about to begin.

April 14, 1945. Prime Minister Suzukiís first Cabinet meeting. Others present include: Shigenori Togo, Foreign Minister; General Korechika Anami, War Minister; and Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, Navy Minister. Anami says the when the US attacks the Japanese mainland, they will discover that "there are no non-combatants in Japan." Suzuki agrees saying: "Victory, or one hundred million dies as one."

After the meeting, one of Anamiís staff approaches him about the possibility of establishing a military government in Japan. Anami, however, is not interested.

Second week of the battle for Okinawa. The Americans press on.

Major General Leslie R. Groves, Head of the Manhattan Project. He heads up the mountain to catch Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Scientific head of the Manhattan Project, who is out riding a horse. Groves finds him on his horse and informs Oppenheimer that he (Groves) has to explain the new weapon to Truman. So, he needs to know that Oppie is on track to test and produce atom bombs. Oppenheimer is philosophic about the new weapon, but Groves doesnít want to hear that. He just wants the bomb to be ready.

Wednesday, April 25. Groves and Stimson are in the oval office with Truman. The General explains the idea of implosion to Truman. One of the three bombs they are making will be used to test the weapon. But the weapon canít be tested before July. Groves says they will drop two bombs. The first one will shock them so badly that they may think it was some kind of gimmick. But if they drop two such bombs on Japan, they may figure the Americans have a thousand such bombs to drop on them. Truman says all this is so fantastic that it seems like Buck Rogers stuff to him. Stimson suggests they establish a committee to discuss all matter relating to the atom bomb. Truman agrees. Truman tells his wife Bess that FDR left him with a decision that even King Solomon would have a great deal of trouble making.

Wendover, Utah. Home of the 509th B29 Squadron. Pilots are practicing precision bombing in preparation for the drop of a new weapon. Major Thomas Ferebee, Bombardier, says they are too high up for more accurate hits. Robert Lewis is the captain. They take their plane up, but miss the target again.

Captain William "Deke" Parsons, US. Navy Weapons Engineer, talks to the air crews about the importance of accuracy. With him is Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets, Commanding Officer of the 509th.

May 8, 1945. Victory in Europe (VE) Day! Truman speaks to the nation over the radio.  The Japanese listen to the broadcast. The USA is asking them to surrender unconditionally. Gen. Anami says the Americans are exhausted and want to quit fighting. But he also says the Americans know that Japan will never surrender.

Tokyo. Emperor Hirohito, descendant of Amaterasu the sun goddess. Tokyo is looking very bombed out. In 1931 his armies invaded Manchuria, China. In 1937 they took Peking, Shanghai and Nanking, as well as most of the North China Plain and Indochina. They killed some eight million civilians.

The American saturation bombings continue.

Marquis Koichi Kido, Lord Privy Seal. He comes in to tell the Emperor that there is a fire on the palace grounds and already it has caused great destruction. The Emperor says he is aware of this. Kido next speaks to the Prime Minister, who tells him: "We must end this damned war." They both agree that only the stubbornness of the army keeps the war going.

May 9, 1945, Washington D.C. First meeting of the Interim Committee. They discuss various options of how to use the atom bomb. Stimson says he has invited Doctors Oppenheimer, Fermi and Lawrence to their next meeting of the Interim Committee. Generals Marshall and Groves also wish to come.

Wendover Air Force Base. This time the bombardier gets a bulls-eye hit on the target.

May 27, 1945, Spartanburg, South Carolina, four days before the penultimate Interim Committee meeting. The house of James Byrnes. Leo Szilard, physicist, Harold Urey, scientist, and Walter Bartky, Dean of the University of Chicago, come in to talk with Byrnes.  Szilard is the spokesman for the group and does a terrible job. He doesnít want the atom bomb even tested, much less used. Byrnes insists that they are going to use the atom bomb, especially since Szilard says the Soviets will have it in five years time. Szilard gives him a petition signed by 74 scientists who work on the Manhattan Project. (There is no record that Byrnes ever spoke to Truman about Szilardís visit.)

May 31, 1945. Second to last meeting of the Interim Committee. Stimson asks Oppenheimer why they shouldnít demonstrate the capabilities of the new weapon to the Japanese?  Oppenheimer says that he and his colleagues canít imagine how a technical demonstration would bring about an end to the war. Moreover, too many things could go wrong. The elements of shock and surprise would also be lost.

June 1, 1945. The unanimous agreement of the Interim Committee is that the bomb should be dropped on Japan as soon as possible and without warning.

Farewell ceremony for Special Suicide Squadron of Kamikaze pilots. A statement of gratitude to the Kamikaze pilots from the Emperor is read to the next group of pilots ready to give their lives for their country. The planes take off and bomb American ships.

June 6, 1945. The Supreme Council for the Direction of the War. General Yoshijiro Umezu, Army Chief of Staff. Shigenori Togo, Foreign Minister. Togo looks over the document "The Basic Plan for the Future Conduct of the War." Togo says he thought they came to talk about peace. Umezu says they are talking about peace, but a peace brought about by an American surrender. Admiral Soemu Toyoda says that when the Americans land they will be met by an overwhelming Japanese force. Togo says these military men must be dreaming. The USA has unlimited resources. Anami says the US wonít be able to supply their army over such a long distance. Togo says: "This is madness!" Togo asks the Prime Minister to back him up, but the Prime Minister remains silent.

Kido tells the Emperor that the armed forced wonít quit because they fear the military men within their own armed forces. And they want to save their honor. Kido says the Emperor must negotiate an end to the war. They should use a strong intermediary to negotiate for them. He suggests the Russians. The Emperor gives him the go-ahead.

The battle for Okinawa still continues.

June 12, 1945. White House, Map Room. Groves speaks with Stimson. Stimson wants to see the list of prospective targets for bombing before Groves gives it to Marshall. Groves gets him the list. The targets include: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama and an arsenal, among others. Kyoto is the main target, but Stimson says he will not approve Kyoto as a target. Groves borders on insubordination in his demand that Kyoto be taken out.

Alamagordo, New Mexico. Construction of the Trinity test site. Location for the first test of the atomic bomb. Thirty days remain before the first test.

June 18, 1945. White House, Map Room. Marshall goes over the plan for the invasions of Japan. They will loose 31,000 in casualties within the first thirty days. King says it's more likely to be around 41,000 casualties. Marshall says it will cost as many lives as the Normandy Landing. It would be a total of 220,000 casualties.

Truman says that the former ambassador to Japan has told him that the Japanese intend to fight to the last man. There is no doubt in Trumanís mind that the casualties will be horrific. He tells the men to continue with their planning for the invasion of Japan. McCloy tells Truman that they should tell Japan that they have the weapon. He says they will refuse and America will, therefore, use the atomic bomb, but at least their moral authority will be greater. ("This was the first time the atomic bomb was discussed openly in a war strategy meeting.")

June 21, 1945. The Battle of Okinawa is over. The Americans had 72,000 casualties, compared to Japanís 131,303. The civilian casualties were as high as 150,000.

July 12, 1945. Tokyo. Prince Konoye, cousin of the Emperor. He tells Kido that they have nothing to eat in the country, but at least they have escaped the air raids of Tokyo. Togo and Kido want the Prince to talk to the Russians. Kido asks the Prince to tell the Russians that they will settle for anything short of unconditional surrender as long at the Emperor remains in place.

The Prince talks with the Emperor and tells him that only the military at headquarters wants the war to go on. If they let the war go on, there may be open rebellion in Japan. The Emperor urges Prince Konoye to go see Stalin before the Postsdam conference. ("Stalin avoided meeting Prince Konoye before and after Potsdam.")

July 15, 1945. U.S.S. Augusta. First post-war conference of the big three in Potsdam, Germany.

July 16, 1945. The first atomic bomb test. 21 days remain before the first use of the atomic bomb. Groves talks to Oppenheimer, but they just donít see eye to eye. Oppenheimer is concerned about the monster he has helped create, Groves is not.

July 16, 1945. Berlin. Germany is ravaged. Truman saus the city looks like absolute ruin.

2 Kaiserstrasse, Babelsburg, Germany, "The Little White House." Truman is extremely happy because Stalin has told him that the Soviet Union will declare war on Japan. The President thinks that the war will end one year earlier than predicted. Stimson tells Truman that the atomic bomb test was a success and actually exceeded expectations. Now Truman has two reasons to be ecstatic.

The atomic bomb, known as "Little Boy", leaves Los Alamos for San Francisco.

July 16, 1945. San Francisco. U.S.S. Indianapolis loads components of "Little Boy". The ship sails for Tinian.

13 Ringstrasse, Potsdam, Germany, temporary residence of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Stimson informs Churchill about the atomic bomb. Churchill wants Stalin to fear the device, not share it.

July 24, 1945. The Big Three continue to meet in Potsdam. Truman briefly informs Stalin of a new weapon. Stalin doesnít ask him one single question about the weapon. ("Stalin had already learnt about the bomb from a Russian spy, Klaus Fuchs.")

Churchill tells Truman that the weapon will end the war.

The Nippon News. "More than a hundred B29's came in several waves. . . . On the 16th and 17th, they attacked our air fields in the eastern region. . . . Over 353 planes were shot down."

Tokyo. July 24, 1945. The meeting between Prince Konoye and Stalin is still under discussion. The Russians say that the Japanese communication was vague and unclear.

Truman plays cards with the guys. Stimson in private tells Truman about the note from the Emperor to the Soviets that the Japanese Emperor wants peace. Truman receives a telegram from Groves saying that the bomb will be dropped sometime between August 1 and August 9. He sends everybody home. Truman writes a note to drop the bomb as soon as possible, but not before August 2.

Truman and Stimson talk. The President says he is issuing a surrender ultimatum to Japan (an ultimatum that came to be known as "The Potsdam Declaration").

July 26, 1945. Tinian Island, South Pacific. B29 base for airstrikes against Japan. U.S.S. Indianapolis at anchor. "Little Boy" uranium bomb unloaded, followed by the arrival at Tinian of the plutonium bomb "Fat Man".

9 days remain. July 28, 1945. Japanese Cabinet meeting to discuss the Potsdam Declaration. Anami remains stubbornly adamant that the war must go on. Others want to negotiate with the Americans. They talk about asking for greater clarification of the Declaration.

General Umezu comes in to the Prime Minister to ask him if he has considered what would happen if two million dissatisfied Japanese soldiers were loose in Japan. The Prime Minister is not that concerned.

July 28, 1945. The Japanese Prime Minister tells the press that they donít think much of the Potsdam Declaration.

July 28, 1945, 2 Kaiserstrasse, Babelsburg, Germany. Truman plays the piano while others sing. Truman receives a translation of a broadcast in Japan concerning the Potsdam Declaration. A professor says that it could mean that the Japanese want to negotiate. Or it could mean that they are treating his ultimatum with silent contempt. Truman says they mean the latter.

Togo accuses the Prime Minister of single-handedly rejecting the Allied ultimatum.

Truman leaves Potsdam. Itís will be a five day trip by ship back home.

August 2, 1945. Island of Guam. General Curtis Lemayís headquarters. Four days remain. Lemay says the target is Hiroshima. They talk about possible strong crosswinds with the pilots and bombardier.

July 29, 1945. Japanese submarine 1-58 off Guam. U.S.S. Indianapolis off Guam en route for San Francisco. The American ship is torpedoed. The crew has to abandon ship. (This incident became especially known because of the shark attacks the sailors encountered.)

August 2, 1945. U.S.S. Augusta en route to Norfolk, Virginia. Admiral King speaks with Truman. The Indianapolis has been sunk by a Japanese submarine. 883 men lost.

August 3, 1945. Kujukuri coastline, southeast of Tokyo. Anami examines a piece of the coastline of Japan thinking the Americans will land here.

Deke says he will arm the atomic bomb in flight. He doesnít want to take a chance of crashing and having the bomb go off on Tinian.

August 5, 1945. The bomb has been loaded onto the Enola Gay B29 and the plane is about to take off. Sgt. Wyatt Duzenbury will be the flight engineer. The plane successfully takes off from Tinian. Deke now rearms the bomb.

Hiroshima 6:15 a.m. The city is bustling already.

Sgt. Joseph Stiborik, radar officer, asks Col. Tibbets what are they carrying? One fellow says they are splitting atoms. The Colonel says thatís a pretty good guess.

Enola Gay, 7:15 a.m., Japan time. Second Lt. Morris R. Jeppson, electronics officer. Little Boy is armed and ready.

USS Augusta crossing the Atlantic on her way back to the United States. Truman is on deck watching out over the ocean.

Enola Gay over Japan, 8:05 a.m., Japan time. Ten minutes to aiming point. The bombardier takes his place. Everyone puts on their glasses. Bay doors are open. The bomb drops. The plane gets out of there fast. They donít see anything, but then a huge light appears. They now can see the huge mushroom cloud.

A big crowd is at the airport awaiting the landing of the Enola Gay. Hiroshima is devastated. The pane lands and photographs are taken. A Hiroshima clock is stopped at 8:14 a.m. Many people are very badly burned.

USS Augusta, south of Newfoundland, Truman returning to Norfolk, Va. Truman receives the notice. He says: "This is the greatest thing in history." He tells the entire crew in the mess hall that they dropped a super bomb of more than 20,000 tons of TNT and it was an overwhelming success. The sailors are very happy.

The Japanese pick up Trumanís latest broadcast. He threatens to completely destroy Japanís power to make war.

Imperial Palace. August 7, 1945. The dead and injured in Hiroshima exceed 130,000. An eye witness describes viewing Japanese streetcars with burnt dead people still standing holding onto the straps. For other people skin was hanging from their bodies.

August 8, 145. Prime Minister Suzukiís residence. The Soviet Union is at war with Japan. Russian troops invade Manchuria.

Washington, D.C. The Soviets have sent around a million troops into Manchuria from three armies. Truman is amazed he has not heard anything from the Japanese and thinks they donít take him seriously. Gen. Groves has the go-ahead to proceed with the next mission.

Fat Man is loaded onto another airplane.

August 9, 1945. Tinian Airfield. B29 "Bockís Car" piloted by Captain Sweeney takes off.

In Japan the discussion is of how to counter the Russian attacks in Manchuria.

In the airplane is Cmdr. Frederick L. Ashworth, Weaponeer. They see anti-aircraft fire coming at them over Kokura. They skip it and go on to Nagasaki. Captain Kermit Beahan, Bombardier.

The Japanese army is still being very stubborn. They still insist on the American acceptance of their four conditions before they will surrender.

The atomic bomb is dropped and another mushroom cloud appears. As the Japanese feud over surrender or no surrender if the four conditions are not accepted, a message reports: "Nagasaki has been hit by a second special bomb." The city is destroyed.

The Emperor finally speaks his mind. He says that further war will bring about Japanís certain destruction. He says he canít bear to see his people suffer any more.

Officers come to Anamiís office talking about planning a coup. But Anami says the Emperor has spoken and they must obey him. The officers are insistent about the coup.

Truman decides that the Japanese can keep their Emperor, but he has to follow the orders of the Supreme Allied Commander, which some speculate will be Douglas MacArthur.

The Emperor tells his government that he must endure the unendurable and so must his staff. Many of the men cry. The rebels come to Anamiís officer banging on his door telling him that they forced the Emperor to make a recording accepting surrender. They insist on seizing the recording. Anami does not answer the door. At his home, he commits seppuku (i.e., ritual suicide).

August 15, 1945, 3:00 a.m.. The coup to prevent Japanís surrender fails.

Itís VJ day, Victory over Japan! There are massive celebrations in New York City.

Truman announces the Japanese full acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.

Japanese representatives sign the surrender agreement before Douglas MacArthur on the battleship USS Missouri. American men of the armed services return home, as do Japanese men of their armed services.

 

This is the story of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima to help end WWII in Asia.  The Canadian team made the American part of the story, while the Japanese team made the Japanese part of the story and then the two were interwoven.  A lot of newsreels and armed forces clips are used along with the dramatized parts. The film combines commentary from real persons involved in the event, both American and Japanese, along with the regular movie format.  The film presents in detail the debate over whether to use the atomic weapon, showing the complexities of the situation and the multiple characters in the drama.

The filming of the actors is done so that it blends naturally into actual footage from WWII.  It was interesting the way the meld together the real and the acted portions.  I also like the many captions used in the movie to help the viewer keep all these characters straight. 

The Japanese version (with subtitles) shows just how stubborn the armed forces were in wanting to carry on with the war and to resist even with young girls using sharpened bamboo sticks.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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